THE POWER OF INDIGNATION

The original idea was a post on “outrage”, a word always called into action when it comes to despicable acts and then generally left to rot in the dictionary. But outrage has  an entirely negative connotation which is, I hope, not what my friend meant when he pointed out that “You are always fired up. You live in a constant state of outrage”. Indignation is more what he meant.

And what is so wrong with that? I thought. Indignation is “anger excited by supposed meanness, injustice, wickedness or misconduct”. Don’t we all go through the day being witnesses to injustices big and small? Typically, we do nothing about it. We are encouraged to take a deep breath and let the anger go – a very laudable act that, all too often, pushes us to become complacent.

While it might be commendable not to get fired up about the asshole who just cut us off on the freeway or took a coveted parking spot, I don’t want to become inured to the homeless man at the traffic light, the racist comment overheard in line at the supermarket, acts of stupidity at the workplace, the unnecessary catty remark or, on a larger scale, whatever ails this world we live in. Take your pick – from gun control to abortion rights, wars in Africa or Afghanistan, “my” Congolese women, another dead soldier whose name I’ll never even know..

There is a place for anger and I am not referring to personal outbursts of. For somebody who is actually fairly incapable of reaching boiling point yes, I do live in a state of indignation. It’s my way of reminding myself to do the right thing when I can – if wondrous displays of courage are not within my reach, I can still try and right those wrongs that cross my path on a daily basis. It’s the alarm clock who keeps me awake and alert to the needs of others, even if I will never be able to do a damn thing about most of the plights that are at the core of my indignation.

Sometimes all it takes is speaking up or lending an ear. If it comes at the cost of being labelled cranky and opinionated, so be it. The price of indifference, of looking the other way is ignorance of the other and a general state of selfish stupor so many live in. Some of us, in the big scheme of things, contribute more than others. I have never done anything momentous, anything that altered the course of history – I never will – very few find themselves with such powers and at such crossroads. But not for a second do I want to give up my indignation – it only affects the little patch I live in but all our little patches are interconnected in ways we might never know.

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